Archive for the ‘Netflix’ Tag

Netflix asking people about iPhone streaming

I’ve gotten several reports from people telling me that Netflix has begun polling their subscribers, asking if they’d be interested in streaming to their iPhone. I’ve not received this poll (or else you’d see a screenshot right now), but thought I should pass it on.

If anyone has a screen grab, post it in the comments.

Netflix

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Netflix Streaming Coming To The Wii This Spring

Where did I hear this? Everywhere. Here’s a quote from the CSM:

The Wii joins the PS3, Xbox 360, LG and Samsung Blu-ray players, TiVo, a set-top box from Roku, and even some TVs in offering access to Netflix’s streaming catalog. Like the PS3, the Wii will require users to send away for a special disc to pop in when they want to watch streaming content.

Netflix

MG Siegler NAILS IT on the Netflix/Warner Bros Deal

I was getting ready to type up my views on the Netflix’s announcement when I ran across an article @ TechCrunch called “Netflix Stabs Us In The Heart So Hollywood Can Drink Our Blood

Money Quote:

The problem here is that the assumption is that Hollywood will be ready and willing to favorably deal with Netflix in the future for streaming. Mark my words, that will only happen if and when piracy becomes a problem. Do we really believe that Hollywood wants to give Netflix (or anyone else) movies to stream early rather than having people buy them first? No, it’s the exact same problem. It’s a problem of greed.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

How To Replace Cable with the Internet: Ten Boxes Reviewed

Part 3 of my series keeps getting postponed because of the fast-changing landscape.

In the mean time, Cnet is reviewing the Top 10 boxes that can help you replace television with the internet.

The over-all verdict:

I’ve done a little digging through the CNET Reviews archives to highlight the top 10 boxes/computers for accessing video-on-demand content via the Web. Here’s a brief summary of each, in no particular order. You can see at a glance what makes each one cool and what makes it not so cool. And you’ll get a general idea of how much each one costs.

I’m sorry to say that I haven’t found a box that offers me everything from all the top movies and TV shows to the best local and live TV programming. But the market is still evolving. And I promise you that the landscape could look very different in another 18 months, so stay tuned.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Netflix saw the future and seized it

In early January 2007, 60 Minutes did a segment on Netflix where CEO Reed Hastings spoke of going from DVD rentals to subscription streaming. He also spoke of the AppleTV (nee.. iTV) and a need to get to the market before it becomes the iPod of video.

I can’t find video of the segment, but I can find a CBS News article covering Netflix where it makes mention of the future of the market. The print article doesn’t include any of Reed Hasting’s quotes about a Netflix set-top box or his vision of getting Netflix out of the DVD rental business and getting into the digital streaming business. The article lays down all the reasons Hastings gave for making the switch, without actually crediting him with saying it.

Once it becomes more practical to buy and rent movies within a few minutes on high-speed Internet connections, few consumers presumably will want to wait a day or two to receive a DVD in the mail. If that happens, Netflix could go the way of the horse and buggy.

Online movie delivery already is available through services like CinemaNow, MovieFlix, Movielink, Vongo and Amazon.com Inc.’s recently launched Unbox. Apple Inc. also is emerging as major player, with hundreds of movies and TV shows on sale at its iTunes store and a new device that promises to transport media from a computer to a TV screen.

But none of those online services have caught on like Netflix’s mail-delivery system, partly because movie and TV studios generally release their best material on DVDs first. The studios have had little incentive to change their ways because DVDs still generate about $16 billion of highly profitable sales.

Like already existing online delivery services, Netflix’s “Watch Now” option offers a lot of “B” movies such as “Kickboxer’s Tears.” But the mix also includes critically acclaimed selections like “Network,” “Amadeus,” “Chinatown” and “The Bridge On the River Kwai.”

The studios contributing to Netflix’s new service include NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, MGM, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, Lion’s Gate and New Line Cinema.

“We are going into this with the knowledge that consumers want to watch (media) in various ways and we want to be there for them,” said Frances Manfred, a senior vice president for NBC Universal. “For now, though, we know television is the vastly preferred option.”

The result is an article that seems as if the ground was going to shift under Netflix and their business model will crumble.

How ironic that CBS (still clinging to their broadcast model and falling way behind the other networks in their online offerings) is having a financial hurt while Netflix is thriving.

Netflix’s bet on the coming trend in video delivery was spot on, and they are reaping the profits. According to Engadget:

The movie rental firm somehow managed to see net income rise to $22.7 million in the quarter, up from $15.7 million in Q4 2007. Revenue was also up by 19 percent, and subscriber growth was pegged at an amazing 26 percent. All told, the firm ended the quarter with 9.4 million subscribers, decimating its own forecast of ending Q4 with 9.15 million customers.

and

The company is reporting that many of its customers are replacing mailed movies with streamed ones, taxing the USPS less and their broadband connections more.

How To Fix The AppleTV (Hint: It’s not DVR functionality)

During the long stretch between Last Hardware Updates Of The Year and MacWorld there is little news coming out of Apple, Inc.. This is the time of year when Apple Talk turns from news and rumors to OpEd pieces.

In the last month, I’ve read more than a few articles telling the world what Apple needs to do to “fix” the AppleTV and send sales through the roof. Most of these articles recommend adding a DVR or an optical drive or both.

I hope not. AppleTV is a box for internet-delivered content.

Americans need to re-think Video Delivery
Americans think that you “get TV” from broadcast/cable/satellite and “get movies” come from shiny discs and Premium Channels. Therefore, anything that wants to rule the big screen will have to handle the content coming to it via these means.

…but what if TV and Movies came via internet? What if every single piece of programming that the cable company wants you to pay them to send to you could be sent via the internet connection you already have?

What if you could pull up a TV show as easily as a web page? What if you could subscribe to a TV show as easily as subscribing to a mailing list or an RSS feed?

Stop wondering “what if?”, because it’s all possible today.

(Now that you know this, how long before YOU cut the cable?)

AppleTV isn’t perfect
AppleTV needs to do better, not do more. The machine needs to be a better internet-delivered entertainment device. With this in mind, it’s easy to see where Apple TV could improve.

In addition to a processor/memory/storage bump, the AppleTV Take 3 should boast one of the two following features:

App Store / Plug-Ins
Yes, I know you can use plug-ins now. I also know they’ve gone from hacking and jailbraking-level mods to plug-and-play simplicity, but in the end… they’re still hacks.

We need an Apple-sanctioned solution to adding Boxee, Plex, Joost, or even games to the AppleTV. An App-store like package manager can easily do the trick.

Also, an App store would allow Netflix and Apple to combine forces without an official partnership.

It is widely known that Apple makes the bulk of it’s money on hardware sales and all other endeavors (including the iTunes store) work with the slimmest of profit margins. Apple is in the hardware business, first and foremost. Netflix is not.

Netflix doesn’t make ANY hardware, instead they are doing their damnedest to get their SaaS on everything from TiVo to XBox360 to Macs and PCs to your cable box. It is certain that they would make an App Store app.

Plug-ins boost the value of Apple’s hardware offering with minimal effort and minimal OS bloat.

– or –

Hulu
Apple needs to show the world that there is more free content than just Podcasts and YouTube Rants available online.

Streaming new/current TV Shows from Hulu beats Netflix’s tiny and ancient TV offering, plus Hulu is as free as broadcast, but with fewer commercials.

With MGM adding full-length movies to AppleTV via YouTube, adding Hulu to AppleTV at the factory will make it a REAL linear-delivery killer.

Having Hulu on the main menu next to YouTube would boost the value of Apple’s hardware offering with minimal effort and minimal OS bloat.

[Update: As someone pointed out to me, The Take 3 Software (if released before February) would be free to all AppleTV owners, thanks to the iPhone-like accounting method Apple uses.]

What AppleTV DOESN’T need is DVR features.
DVRs are for wrangling [linear-delivered video] sent on [a proprietary network].
AppleTV is for sorting [non-linear delivered video] sent on [the open internet].

Like a Gas Dryer vs an Electric Dryer, they’re incompatible with (and redundant to) each other. They do the “same” thing, but in two different ways; and no one needs both.

Yet, some people still don’t get it.

Thanks to non-linear deliverable video available on the open internet, I no longer pay a cable or satellite bill and I’m not missing any of my favorite shows.

In it’s current state, AppleTV can help wean you off of cable and satellite… but only if you combine it with Bittorrent, TVrss.net, and VisualHub. Hulu-on-AppleTV makes those other tools unnecessary, makes television-over-internet as simple as a DVR, and makes it that much easier to “cut the cable”.

Without cable, you don’t NEED a machine to wrangle it.

AppleTV DOESN’T NEED a DVD or BluRay Drive
Optical discs can compliment internet delivery, but I feel a dedicated box (like a DVD or BluRay Player) is a better solution for anything with moving parts.

I bought my first two DVD Players in 1998. A Creative Labs DxR2 for the computer and a Panasonic A110u for the television. Since then, I’ve gone through 5 DVD drives and 4 stand-alone players.

Luckily, each replacement was cheaper, faster, and had more features that the one it was replacing; although each one also got lighter and more fragile feeling, too.

Like component AV equipment, the optical disc player and the internet-delivered content player should remain as separate as the cassette player and the CD Player.

But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Internet Television Test, Week 3: Rerun Season

(For those just joining us, here’s the story so far.)

Ah, Mid-July.

The time of year when I catch up on shows that I missed and the TV networks bombard me with advertisements for the new shows debuting next season. I think. Has it started yet? I don’t know. I don’t own a TV.

My list of links to the shows I’m watching is about half done. There is little motivation until new shows come out. Instead I found myself finishing Burn Notice Season 1 by getting the two-part finale free off of iTunes.

We also finished Disc 2 of House M.D. Season 1. This is a really good show. If you’re like me and missed the boat the first go round, pick it up.

We watched In Plain Sight on Hulu rather than USA Network this week. Our first impression is: The controls are much better. Better for going INTO full screen mode, better once you’re there.

On USA Network’s site, to go to full screen you have to click a small rectangle-within-a-rectangle no bigger than my Mac’s pointer. At first I didn’t even know it was clickable. On Hulu it’s a large button. It’s so large of a button that it fits the words “Full Screen” and an easy-to-see icon. The ICON is four times the size of USA’s whole button. Brain-dead simple to figure out and do from the sofa.

Once in full screen, on USA Network’s site uses the same controller as when it’s in a tiny window. It doesn’t get any bigger. Pause is a tiny target sandwiched between “rewind” and “exit full screen”, barely a fraction of an inch apart.

On Hulu’s site, “pause” and “exit full screen” are on opposite corners. In fact, they ARE the opposite corners. The whole corner square inch is one big button on each side. To rewind/forward, just click the timeline. Brain-dead simple to figure out and do from the sofa.

TheDailyShow.com’s player is similar to Hulu’s, but not quite the same. The buttons are still in opposite corners, but they don’t take up the whole corner. Someone on Comedy Central’s website team needs to learn about Fitts’s Law. (Remember: Design is more than “how it looks”)

After Hulu and TheDailyshow.com, the USA Network player is bad enough to make me NOT browse USA Network’s site for new shows when I’m looking to discover new content. Instead, I watched the Pilot Episode of Remington Steele and added The Riches to my list, both found on Hulu.

Speaking of The Riches, I watched the pilot episode of yesterday. It was 180 degrees from what I was expecting. When I read Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, I was expecting a sitcom. When I saw it was an hour long, I still imagined something closer to The O.C. than The Sopranos. Instead, I got the best Pilot I’ve seen all month. I cannot wait to finish Season 1.

This week brought another episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and another visit to ABC Family’s web site to stream the episode. This time everything appeared to be there, but I only clicked on Episode 3 for fear of jinxing it.

Same as last week, you have to click the screen after each commercial break, but you can click anywhere. Still annoying.

On the download front, both my wife and I are still enjoying The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I downloaded this fully expecting it to blow as badly as Clerks, My Big Fat Greek Life, and many other Movie-to-TV translations. Instead, I find myself curious to see where they’re taking this. It may have to be added to the list.

I have low expectations for The Two Coreys, Season 1. After Scott Baio is 45… and Single (and its sequel) my appetite for peeping into the dirty laundry of the stars of my childhood entertainment is is fully whet and the torrent is 99% finished.

Replacing Television with The Internet, Part 2 1/2: The Sound Redux

In an unexpected development, my AV Receiver died.

One step forward, two steps back.

Purchased in 1998, it served me well.

In Part One, I bought the first part of my new system: A screen. ($300)

In Part Two, I brought along a Mac (current eBay value: $355) , 5.1 AV Receiver (current eBay value: $0), and sundry cables and cords.

What I didn’t bring along was computer speakers.

Yes, I know I was pleased when I reported that my Mac had a built-in speaker and I’d never be without sound. Well, sorry Mac – your built-in speaker is no match for a good DTS track. The built-in speaker is good for music, but so-so for action movie dialogue.

I grabbed the Philips SBA 1500 powered notebook speakers my wife uses with her iPod and connected it to the Mac.

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than constantly asking: “What did they say?” and trying to rewind with a keyboard and mouse.

The HDMI switch that I was going to be reviewing this week went back to the store unopened, the Netflix box postponed, and my wife even offered to give up her iPhone money for a new amp.

With a budget of $499, I was able to find the Sony STR-DG920 for $487.03 shipped. It should be here by this time next week. Until then, it’s tiny, white, and 2.0 for me.

Internet Television Test, Week 2: TiVo Season Pass List Replacement v1.0

The nice thing about TiVo is that you can become blissfully unaware of programming schedules. This allows you to think of TV as non-linear. Because of this, I think it will be easier for me to make the leap to internet-based-TV than most.

The problem is that TiVo did all my thinking for me, and now I have no idea when my shows come on, what’s in re-runs, or what was cancelled. Because of this, I think it will be harder for me to make the leap to internet-based-TV than most.

Crap.

The first question is: Which shows do I download, and which shows do I stream? Well, it’s hard to make that decision without knowing which shows are even available, and for how long.

Nine episodes into the 12-episode Season One of Burn Notice, the shows disappeared from both Hulu and USA Network’s site. I found some torrents, but so far zero percent.

While I was browsing, I grabbed the torrent for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It’s about 60% done.

Googling around I found The Dick Van Dyke Show, and watched an episode. Now I have to add that to my list. Too bad I forgot to bookmark the page. I’ll get around to it.

I started making my TiVo Season Pass List into a page of links to keep track of what show is available where. I figure it can be the page I pull up whenever I’m ready to “watch TV”.

Meanwhile… House M.D. Season One (Disc 1) came in the mail. After just 4 episodes, my wife and I are hooked. That’s added to the list.

I tried to pull up episode 2 of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, but I couldn’t find it. ABC Family reports that the episode is missing. (Already??!? ZIt just aired a few days ago!) From the looks of the site, the episode is supposed to be there, but the link is broken. Bittorrent has it on my hard drive in just over an hour… in HD.

To kill the hour, I watch the pilot episode of Sliders. Gotta add that to the list.

Ohh! Incredible Hulk Pilot Episode in it’s full Bill Bixbyish glory! Oh, that has to go on the list.

How long is this list going to get?

After finding about twenty shows, I’ve got a nice collection of jumping-off points for when I go looking for links – and just when I think there are no more… I find another gold mine of content.

I gotta start filling that blogroll with something useful – links to streaming video sounds good.

So ends week 2. The weeks ahead will include learning about HDMI, buying an HDMI switch, reviewing the Roku Netflix Player, testing different Remote Control solutions, Subscribing to RSS feeds, checking out the world of Podcasts and, of course, BluRay.

Reaper


Reaper Episode Guide

Streaming:
CWTV
Surf the Channel

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2

The Colbert Report

The Colbert Report Episode Guide

Streaming:
Comedy Central
Fanpop
Fancast
Hulu

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
The Best of The Colbert Report

Exes and Ohs


Exes and Ohs Episode Guide

Streaming:
Logo

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1

South Park

South Park Episode Guide

Streaming:
South Park Studios
AOL Video
WatchTVSitcoms.com
Fancast

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7
Season 8
Season 9
Season 10
Season 11

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Episode Guide

Streaming:
TheDailyShow.com
Fancast
Fanpop
Hulu

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2004

Medium

Medium Episode Guide

Streaming:
Fancast
Hulu

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5

In Plain Sight

In Plain Sight Episode Guide

Streaming:
USA Network
Hulu
AOL Video

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2

Samantha Who?

Samantha Who? Episode Guide

Streaming:
ABC.com

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1

The Simpsons

The Simpsons Episode Guide

Streaming:
Fancast
AOL Video
FOX on Demand
Hulu

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7
Season 8
Season 9
Season 10
Season 11
Season 12
Season 13
Season 14
Season 15
Season 16
Season 17
Season 18
Season 19

Burn Notice

Burn Notice


Burn Notice Episode Guide

Streaming:
USA Network
Hulu
AOL Video

Download:
Torrent (change season and episode number as needed)

Disc:
Season 1
Season 2

Replacing Television with The Internet, Part 1: The Screen [UPDATED]

[UPDATED: Well, “updated” is an understatement. Completely re-written is more accurate. This was done on July 24 when I realized this was not going to be a simple three part series.]

June 28, 2008
Like so many people out there, I am not a wealthy person. I am a starving artist. As a starving artist I have to buy things on the cheap, re-use whatever I can, and make what I have last.

I put off converting to HDTV as long as possible. I kept waiting for a 36″ 1080p set to come out and then I planned on waiting until it cost less than $600. My old TV was bought with the intent of lasting until my HD switch, so I had a lot of patience.

As I waited, the internet started catching up with broadcast in content available. “As long as possible” may be very long indeed.

Then I started thinking about my television itself. I haven’t used the tuner in my television since the 80s. First the VCR took over, then the cable set-top box, and (for the last seven years) TiVo. My television is a glorified monitor.

When I bought my last television (a decade ago) I knew it would be used mostly as a multi-input monitor, so I made sure it had enough inputs for everything I wanted to hook up to it.

The thing is a beast. It’s 32″ Sony Wega.

Weighing over 100 pounds, it was one of the first sub-$1000 TVs with “16:9” mode – allowing me to get 33% greater resolution out of my “16:9 enhanced” DVD collection. Snazzy. By 1998, I already had over 100 DVDs. Knowing this was going to be my last non-HD set and I was going to be watching it until at least 2003. I couldn’t go without those extra lines of resolution. Could you?

Flash forward to 2008. Life got weird, and I still don’t have an HDTV. Our year living in a cabin in the woods was almost over, and we were returning to Seattle. The TV that was supposed to be replaced a half-decade earlier is still working like a champ, but it’s just too big and heavy for this move.

It was time to do Hi-Definition. Unfortunately, that sub-$600 1080p 36″ HDTV never came out. Sure they could handle the signal, but most in the $600 price range have a resolution of 1366 x 768. and “downscales” everything. Yecch!

The TV-as-a-monitor thing worked out so well, I decided to replace it with an actual computer monitor this go round. If you don’t need the HD tuner, you can get higher resolution screens for a much lower price.

…and as long as we’re getting a new screen, why not switch to The Internet instead of HD-Cable or HD-Satellite for our TV Show needs?

Having decided to replace television with the internet, we started packing. As moving day got closer, we kept discussing Life After Television and packed the TiVo (just in case).

When we got back to Seattle our first apartment had an abandoned TV/DVD/VHS-combo unit in it… and the apartment building has free cable – so we hooked the TiVo up for one last season.

Television got a stay of execution until June 30. But now the time is near, and the new monitor arrived in the mail two weeks ago.

I chose the V7 D24W33.

From the V7 Website:

24-wide LCD monitor is a beauty of a monitor that offers 1920 x 1200 resolution, 1000-to-1 contrast ratio and a bright, vivid display. These nice features are further complemented by wide viewable angle from side to side and an intuitive OSD (On-Screen Display) controls to help you optimize screen settings. Standard model comes with analog VGA input and a HDMI connector for high-performance video connectivity. This large handsome monitor is further enhanced with a height-adjustable stand (4” up-down) that also swivels (rotates) sideways 90 degrees, pivots to vertical position and tilts from -15 to +40 degree angle. For high-performance applications with desktop publishing, video conferencing, presentations, video viewing, game playing and the most common desktop computing needs, the D24W33 is visual and ergonomic marvel in any work or play environment.
D24W33 has received a prestigious “Editor’s Choice Award” from Motherboards.org and the “Gamer’s Choice Award” vom Gamepyre.com.

The V7 came with an HDMI-to-DVI cable, so it hooked up to my Mac and worked with no configuration. I have one stuck pixel, but it’s stuck white and it’s near the edge of the screen so I don’t notice it much. I’ve tried using JScreenFix, but it didn’t help. Any suggestions?

The first step to Replacing Television is complete. Now I’m beginning to panic. How will I learn about new shows without commercials zipping by at 60X speed? Will I have to remove my Ad Blocker software on my computer and start reading/following banners? Will I cave, buy an EyeTV 250Plus, and get cable for another year? Stay Tuned.

Making the Leap

I’m actually nervous. I’ve been thinking about doing it for awhile, but on July 1, I’m actually doing it. I’m giving up television. I’m going to go 100% internet for my pre-recorded entertainment needs… and I don’t plan on giving up any of my favorite shows.

At least, I’m going to try to. If a show becomes too difficult, too inconvenient, or too expensive to keep watching there is a lot of internet original programming out there and I’m dying to learn all about it.

The hard part will be prying the TiVo remote from my wife’s hand.

David Sadaris says the best way to quit smoking is to move to Japan for three months. We’re going to give up television by moving to a different apartment about a mile and a half down the street.